Dividends: Plastic Goes Platinum

First came the green card. Introduced by American Express in 1958, the sliver of plastic quickly became a status symbol. Later the Gold Card, brought out in 1966, took over as the first-class way to pay. Now American Express is about to play its most exclusive card: platinum. Said a company spokesman: "This will raise the prestige level to new heights."

Compared with an annual fee of $35 for the green version and $50 for the gold, the new platinum card will cost a plush $250 when it is offered this summer to some 500,000 of Amex's best customers. To qualify,...

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